I wanted to share this poem primarily because I found it strikingly beautiful.
The woman with the alabaster jar
She knew the lines of a man’s back
as well as she knew the taste
of decanted fig-wine, or the way the spine
girdered the back under her hand;
an uneven scaffolding of flesh under fingers.
It was a gentle gift, this. Acquired slowly
in the stones arranged on her mother’s grave,
in the deep vault of her hip against his.
Dipping like water, she learnt to press libations
into her hair — lavender, dill, coriander;
to twist strands against the frame.
There was salvation in this. And Art too;
that fingers still wet from mulberry
could etch a form of truth on the skin,
like the rim of flung-coin, or the
consolation of Spring oranges and their spurting.
But the truth of them has been forgotten.
His dirty feet and tired eyes, her hennaed-thighs
in sandalwood and linen, how she swung her hips,
how his loneliness was an atrium arching from his chest
to the lip of the buttress; aching for her to unfurl her hair.
The allusions swim around these texts (Matt 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:37-39 – although note that the Luke story is a different setting; also look at Song of Solomon 5:15-16). Does it step over a line for the pious, or does it push to the right line reminding us ‘…and he was made man…’?